This week promises to be significant for a number of reasons – though perhaps those reasons are different to what we might have imagined just a few short weeks ago.

If you’re a football fan, or a dad (or both!), then there’s double reason to celebrate. Premier League matches begin again on Wednesday June 17, with the Championship close on its heels just three days later. Coupled with the fact that Father’s Day falls on Sunday June 21 (and summer officially begins on Saturday June 20), there are reasons for optimism and, at last, things to look forward to for most.

Just a few weeks ago we’d have had one eye on Wimbledon and the Olympics, and planning meals, days out and hugs with our loved ones on Father’s Day. As lockdown rules continue to relax, we can at least see our loved ones, albeit from a distance. And a bit of summer weather might help too!

Something all these things have in common is a subject that will loom large in many people’s lives over the next few months: the issue of mental wellbeing. Though for many people, the return of football on our TV screens or in mostly empty stadia may seem trivial, for many, watching sport can bring huge benefits, triggering a happiness and relaxation they can’t find elsewhere.

If people are not naturally physically active, watching sport can improve their motivation to take exercise, and motivation is so often the key to how we feel individually or as groups. Studies have shown that watching sport on TV can produce relief from stress too, and stress in one form or another is something that most of us will have experienced during lockdown.

It is well documented that physical activity can not only improve your physical health, but reduces the levels of stress hormones and stimulates endorphins, which increase the feeling of pleasure in the brain. Seeing your loved ones in straitened times can have a very similar effect, as can simple pleasures such as enjoying some warm weather.

So, whatever you’re doing this week – running, walking, taking a bike ride, watching your favourite team on TV, seeing your family or simply sunbathing, there is a reason to do so with optimism – and with a smile on your face.

Posted: 16/06/2020

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